New Japanese tea house imaginings


The image shows three examples from the “Nirvana Mini” show recently at the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC.  Each is new version of the Japanese tea house by a contemporary Japanese architect.  The one on the left is a model made from a single sheet of paper by  Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama.  The one on the right is also a model, this time of a tea house made entirely of glass and intended for a garden or forest setting.  It is by Norihiko Dan.  The center image is a full-sized “structureless” tea house by Kengo Kuma named “fu-an”, which translates as “floating hermitage”.  The gossamer “walls” of super-organdy (an exceptionally light cloth weighing only 11grams/square meter) are held up by a large helium-filled balloon.

The Nirvana Mini concept has been developed by Japanese author Masahiko Shimada, who has written stories, essays, poems and opera librettos.  (The English translation of one called Junior Butterfly can be found on his website.  It is a sequel to Madame Butterfly.)  I haven’t found a translation of the Nirvana Mini writings yet.

According to Susan Laszewski, writing on the Japanese Embassy’s newsletter Japan Now,

“Nirvana Mini” is a concept of design built upon the idea that all human habitats are fundamentally alike and can be extracted to an ideal space. As Mr. Shimada writes, this is because the basic structure of our homes is “prescribed beforehand by the structure of the human brain and body.”


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